August 2019: Encourage Healthy Habits this School Year
Adolescence is a critical time for youth to take responsibility for their physical health. Other than the first year of life, there is no other developmental period during which individuals grow more than during adolescence. A fresh school year provides an opportunity to help adolescents develop healthy behaviors and reinforce healthy habits. Youth serving-professionals, parents, caregivers, and other caring adults can help teens learn to be active, make healthy food choices, and engage in their own healthcare. OPA has published new information and resources for teens on physical activity and nutrition.
Good Nutrition is a Key Part of Adolescents' Health
Youth gain more control over their food and drink choices as they grow, so adolescence is a great time to help youth build healthy nutritional habits they can take into adulthood. Some healthy eating tips are relevant for all adolescents. Many adolescents could benefit from eating more vegetables, fruits, and dairy to meet recommended daily amounts.
The United States Department of Agriculture MyPlate provides recommendations for how much adolescents should eat from each the five food groups.
- Vegetables: 2 ½ cups per day
- Fruits: 2 cups per day
- Grains: 6 ounces, half of which are whole grains
- Dairy: 3 cups per day
- Protein: 5 ½ ounces per day
Explore additional resources for adults to help teens learn to make healthy food choices.
Is Your Teen Drinking Enough Water?
In 2005-2010, adolescents drank an average of just two glasses of water per day. This is well below the recommended amount of at least nine glasses of water per day for girls and 13 glasses per day for boys. In 2011-2014, more than six out of 10 teens reported drinking a sugar-sweetened beverage on any given day. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages (including many sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, flavored juice drinks, and sweetened coffee and tea) frequently is associated with obesity, cavities, and other poor health outcomes.
Benefits of Physical Activity
Daily physical activity improves health, fitness, and overall quality of life. According to the President's Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, daily physical activity can benefit teens by improving grades, increasing self-confidence, and reducing stress. Adolescents should get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise each day. Unfortunately, less than one in three adolescent boys and only one in eight adolescent girls get enough exercise.
Activities should vary and strengthen teens’ heart, bones, or muscles. For example:
- exercises like brisk walking, cycling, and swimming strengthen the heart;
- exercises like running, jumping rope, and playing basketball strengthen bones; and
- exercises like lifting weights and yoga strengthen muscles.
The Adolescent Health Library provides important resources for parents, caring adults, and youth-serving professionals on adolescent physical health and nutrition.
Spread the Word with These Posts
Adolescence is a good time for youth to take responsibility for their health. Youth serving-professionals, parents, caregivers, and other caring adults can help teens be active, make healthy food choices, and engage in their healthcare. http://bit.ly/2OQ27ZU via @HHSPopAffairs
Good nutrition is a key part of adolescents’ health. Visit @HHSPopAffairs’ updated nutrition pages for information on how much adolescents should eat from each the five food groups. http://bit.ly/2OQ27ZU #HealthyEating
Content last reviewed on September 18, 2019